Some things I say here might not sit well with you because it might make you uncomfortable; I don’t savor that, but I accept it. For example, if one were to say, as I previously said, “the only thing free is slavery,” you might be the first to say “Outrageous!” You might be right, on the other hand, it might be true — think about it.
Probably the most notable area I would like you to key on is the matter of perception. What I mean by that is, what happens is not as important as what is perceived, because what is perceived is colored by a person’s deep-seated beliefs. The reason is, perception determines what a person does about what happens much more than what actually happens. And what a person does is, in the final analysis, what counts.
For example, in 1994, “Census data showed that vast disparities in wealth, health, and perceptions of opportunity in American society persisted among different racial and ethnic groups. While the overall net worth of U.S. households stood at $36,623, white households averaged $44,408, nearly ten times more than black households ($4,604).”9 Advance to the year 1999 and the economy found a significant improvement in the white/black income-gap; in fact, “the median income figures were the highest ever recorded for non-Hispanic white households ($44,366), and African-American households ($29,910).”10
That’s astonishing but not unbelievable, but that’s not all. “Health and mortality statistics indicated similar patterns of white privilege and black risk. The data showed that black women were ten times more likely than white women to die from AIDS; black men were seven times more likely than white men to be murdered; and infant mortality rates for blacks were twice those for whites.”11
Those horrifying numbers testify to the apparent disparity in the quality of life in a comparison of white and black Americans. However, the numbers provide no explanation, not even a hint, as to why such a disparity might exist. And certainly, numbers don’t provide solutions, nor do they hint at the part played by perception of opportunity, versus actual opportunity in American society.
With that in mind, I have identified a number of areas in which America can be quite proud. I have also taken up the gauntlet and identified areas that have been the foundation of America’s failure, particularly when it relates to progress toward liberty and justice for all, and overall progress of the American spirit.
Our new nation presented a new type of problem in the area of race-relations. Actually, it was not new, it was just slanted in a different way. Nevertheless, the act of dissecting the establishment of race-related Roadblocks, and reports of how they affect the American mystique are responsible for answers to a number of questions, such as, “Why are there so few minority supervisors and managers in corporate America?” “Why are there oftentimes intense Roadblocks between black men and their black women?” “Why are blacks not unified as a group like, say, the Jews?” “Why is spousal abuse more prevalent among blacks than any other ethnic group?”
Also, why is immigration a problem, and why is there a need to build a fence or wall to prevent immigrants from entering our country: most of us thought immigrants were welcome to our country.
At first glance, the above questions and answers might seem to be strictly a minority issue: I have no quarrel with those who view these issues from that direction; however, there is a majority/minority relationship that is begging to be revealed. And reveal it I shall. In addition, other questions arise such as, “What is racism?” and “Why does racism exist?” These and other intriguing questions relative to our Race To Excellence will be highlighted and briefly, yet concisely, dissected. I think the answers to a number of other questions will set you afire with an enthusiasm born of liberty.
Before we continue, though, allow me to tell you why I qualify to talk about a subject as touchy as race relations, and why anyone should listen to me.
Actually, a number of legitimate reasons exist; however, there are three primary, overriding and magnetic reasons, none of which are academic.
First and foremost I am one of many Americans residing in this society who possess an outlook that says, “Let’s identify those things which are good for America and conserve them: and let us identify those things that are destructive of America and highlight them for what they are: Roadblocks To Progress.”
Ken Hamblin is a self-proclaimed advocate of truth and justice, and is a purveyor of that credo. He espouses it every day via his nationally syndicated radio program emanating from Denver, Colorado. The support he receives via his callers and writers is astonishing to many Americans, but not surprising. It’s just that most Americans have not heard their beliefs verified to the extent highlighted by him. My only problem with him is that in many instances he seems to lean toward the stance that if you’re black you are automatically wrong – many of us, both black and non-black, disagree with that leaning because it’s not true.
At any rate, just as the psychotherapist might highlight activities that occurred in the past in an effort to improve the present and the future, I too will attempt to use that method relating to race-relations. Indeed, many of us believe that in many instances, events of the past possess a bounty from which to learn.
In addition, there exists a great deal of good in what the past has to offer. It is true that in a great number of instances, solid foundations were laid and good intentions were evident, yet in the end the actions were misapplied, particularly when those actions related to black Americans. Nevertheless, misapplication should in no way discredit a solid foundation.
On the other side of the coin, many white Americans admit they sincerely want to know legitimate areas of black concerns and how they can address them with compassion and understanding. At the same time, they want to insure that the scales of justice and fairness are consistent with those concerns. Those concerns are addressed openly and honestly here.
Second, what I have to say will probably cause you to think in unusual ways about what is good for America, and how progress relates to racial harmony. In the same vein, you will probably be more aware of how racial harmony relates to progress. Also, many of you will feel compelled to respond with your own comments and, hopefully, in many instances creative action will be generated.
In addition, there is little doubt that ideas generated by the black American struggle are responsible, to a great degree, for the success of the female struggle, and the immigration situation. Likewise, all non-white races and groups have benefited from ideas and legislation created as a result of the black struggle. That will be evident from my gentle, yet exquisite, handling of this touchy subject.
Third, I have no delusions about being a guru of race-relations; however, there exists a large group of blacks, as well as whites, among us that believe as I do. There is a difference between blacks and whites. The difference though is not a matter of superiority/inferiority; rather, it is as an orange differs from a peach.
With any group of oranges and peaches, some are sweet and some are not so sweet; some are mature, some are not mature; some are big while some are not so big, some are juicy, some not so juicy, etc., etc., etc. However, one would be hard pressed to say an orange is superior to a peach or vice versa. The same applies to blacks and non-blacks; incidentally, it also applies to men and women.
And, oh yes, one more thing: I am an expert on being black; I have been that way for over half a century. During that time I have resided and worked in the North, South, Midwest, and West. About half that time was spent primarily among black Americans in black communities at home, at school, at work, and at play. The remaining time was spent primarily among white Americans in white communities at home, at work, at school, and at play.
In addition, at work, I was an employee: I was in a union, and earned wages by the hour. I was also in management positions as a manager and owner. In addition, I have been in positions where I was trained and directed by blacks and whites; plus, I have been in positions where I trained and directed blacks and whites.
There are a number of other legitimate reasons; however, those are the primary, overriding, and magnetic reasons I qualify to talk about a subject as touchy as immigration, race-relations, and “The American Way.”That is also the reason why anyone, indeed everyone, should listen to me.
Having said the above, the fact is I am American. My skin is darker than many other Americans; in fact, some people call me black (my preference), some call me African-American, others call me Negro or colored, still others call me other names — some nice and some not so nice. However, the names people use to identify me in their minds have nothing at all to do with who I am.
Now, let me say that who I am is probably responsible for me being sick of self-serving, power-mongers who attempt to twist words and make them offensive when in reality they are neutral. A prime example is the case where a city’s police chief was criticized for using the “N” word. The chief used the word during a training class, and according to the complaining policeman, the chief did not call him the word, nor use the word in a derogatory manner, but he did use it. Somehow I don’t equate that to being a racial slur nor do I equate that to indicate the police chief was a racist.
Actually, blacks use the word all the time, but when used around non-blacks it is usually a sign of defiance and disrespect; it is also usually a sign of immaturity. The same is true of non-blacks, when they use the word around blacks, it is for the same reason: it is usually a sign of defiance, disrespect, and immaturity.
There is no doubt that the “N” word has special meaning to all Americans because of the difficulty blacks have endured in achieving human rights in this land of liberty – there is also no doubt it will remain a symbol of national immaturity and immorality.
I am black, but think about this: Blacks can call anybody just about anything they can think of and the outrage would be practically non-existent. But let a non-black call a black person just about anything (including “black”) and somebody will be distressed – if for no other reason than, “It’s the way he said it.” Does that make sense? To both black and white power brokers it does.
The objective is to keep blacks thinking of themselves as victims. You see victims are free to be as irrational, as crooked, and as off-handed as any idiot. As long as the victims see themselves in that light, they can continue to moan, complain, and expect the rest of us to bow down to their “demands.” The thinking is, if the establishment accepts their demands, they will open their coffers and produce handouts for non-productivity. The problem is, when the establishment gives them the unearned, they take it from people like you and me, the producers.
In reality, it is not a matter of skin color, or ethnicity, it is a matter of power. We all want the power to do what we want to do when we want to do it. The difference is, most people want to enjoy their power with other people, while the demagogues, the misleaders of the people, want to enjoy their power at the expense of other people.
We need to identify the misleaders of the people for who they are – the enemy. Their method is get us to think of ourselves as victims. And guess what? When we think of ourselves as victims, we think of ourselves as powerless. And when people accept the mantel of “victim” they are mentally and emotionally preparing themselves for bondage, and the power mongers and demagogues are waiting to take advantage of our every weakness.
The dirty little secret is, the demagogues don’t want us to know, that we have already won. We have earned our treasures, our ancestors have paid the price, and most of us are in the process and desire to do the same. If we want the good life, we can never stop being producers. If we earn it we should get it, and if we don’t get it we should demand to know why not.
We have a multitude of legal remedies and a ton of partners interested in our success. No excuses, no whining, no devious tricks, just plain “do it.”
In this book, I identify specific “Roadblocks to Progress” and highlight the origin of them. When appropriate, I also identify the professed demise of the “Roadblocks.” In chapter one, the Roadblocks specifically apply to black/white relationships and how they have affected, and continue to affect, liberty and justice for all of us, and how it affects the American way.
In addition, I add a little gusto in the process, and thereby improve the probability of bringing about the demise in-fact of race-related “Roadblocks.” This, in effect, will serve as the impetus to free all Americans, and, I repeat, especially black Americans, from the self-imposed restraints underwritten by the demagogues in our society. In chapter ten, I also identify other Roadblocks to Progress.
So now, the question arises, “What is the overall objective I intend to accomplish with this effort?”
The answer is, I intend to provide ample evidence to support the position that the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution did much more than just declare independence from Great Britain; that they provided much more than just an economic base that would support a governmental contract with a people in a new environment; and that they provided much more than the atmosphere of a free society.
The fact is, the Founding Fathers did all those things and more, and they did indeed provide a system of government that would “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The high point is that they did it in such a way that liberty could be propelled throughout all eternity in this great nation. The only problem is, “liberty” means there had to be, of necessity, the freedom to screw it up.
And, screw it up we did. The major “screw-up” was the distortion of the concept of racial harmony, and racism. Before we can proceed with the objective of securing “the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” we must first get on the high road to positive relationships between the races; especially between black and white Americans.
To bring racial harmony to the point that it is past history, several things must happen: among those things are that each race and ethnic group must feel good about itself, and each race must feel good about the other. In addition, each race must understand that progress in this great nation will not just happen; that substantive progress piggy-backing racial harmony is possible, but not probable in this society… unless we change attitudes.12
Keep in mind, attitudes are like heads: everybody has one. However, attitudes are also like a garden: unless a garden is cultivated, weeds will take over, they don’t need to be cultivated. Likewise, a good, clean, positive attitude must be cultivated, or the weeds of failure will take over one’s personality.
The same is true of liberty, or any positive asset. It must be cultivated by positive actions, else the weeds, that is, the enemies of freedom, will grab hold and put a half nelson on the throat of liberty.
During this effort I will provide you with a view of the emotions and attitudes of blacks toward themselves, blacks toward whites, and whites toward blacks. In addition, I will highlight the powerful fragrance of liberty as seen through the eyes of the Founding Fathers.
The idea is to provide you with a sumptuous mental meal that I call “the cake of attitude cultivation.” It is a three-step approach: first, we will provide the ingredients; second we will mix them up; and finally, we will place the resulting mix into the fire and savor the resulting goodness.
Sometimes the fire, to which we refer, is as simple as identifying oneself with a name. “What can a name possibly have to do with fire in one’s soul?” one might ask. The noted patriot of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, said simply, “Our great title is American.” He was quite persuasive and quite a stickler for truth and that which is right and proper. I selected the title of chapter ten in his honor.
The power mongers in our society also recognize the power of names. They use them as weapons in their reach for power, especially the use of negatives to produce antagonism and distress. That way they can step in and become the savior. One example is the word we previously referred to as the “N-word” — code name for Nigger, which originated as a distorted pronunciation of the word “Negro.”
Names and words are important, that’s why we talked previously about the “the use and misuse of words.” However, let us not get sidetracked: before reading the draft of this work, every one of the people asked the question, “What is the overall objective you intend to accomplish with this effort?”
The answer is, “I intend to cultivate positive attitudes of all Americans, and thereby speed up progress in all areas of American society.”
The following is the approach; I call it a three-step recipe: the number one ingredient in our first step is to identify racial Roadblocks to progress and uncover the origin of a number of key occurrences that resulted in the application of them. Some black supporters try to express the idea that these Roadblocks still exist or that the conditions remain the same. Don’t you believe it because it is not true: that is simply part of the effort to prolong victim-mentality.
It is important to note that, when it comes to racial matters, legal Roadblocks have already been eliminated; however, the reason for identifying the specific one’s we have selected, is to bring about the demise in-fact of the noted Roadblocks in the minds of all Americans, and I repeat, especially in the minds of black Americans. Incidentally, numerous Roadblocks to progress have existed; however, we will traverse only about nine of them in depth. Those nine relate specifically to, and directly affect, black/white relationships and the progression toward greatness during our Race to Excellence.
The second ingredient in our first step is to document and support the idea that the making of America was a gigantic struggle not only for white America, it was also a monumental struggle for black America; in addition, it was an unusual struggle for other Americans who oozed into the fabric of our society. However, it was a road we traveled together, and any significant progress we make as a race or as a people will have to be accomplished together. Incidentally, the reader might wish to pause briefly and consider the fact that “together” does not necessarily mean “integrated” in the traditional sense.
The important thing to note is that the immense struggle resulted in progress toward liberty for all Americans. And liberty supports and fosters progress in all areas of a nation’s life. On the other hand, racial animosity, racial hatred, and racial vindictiveness can be compared to a dirty spark plug in an automobile engine. It robs power and progress from the performance design.
The third ingredient in our first step is to document and support the notion that all Americans owe our black American ancestors a tremendous debt of gratitude. Without support of them, this nation, as we proclaim it, would never have developed into “the land of the free,” the most potent and awesome society ever assembled in the history of the world.
Note here, I said, it is our black American ancestors to whom we owe the debt. This current crop of Americans, black and otherwise, are in debt to all our ancestors and it is about time we paid them back. And how do we pay them back? We cut through the maze of demagoguery and mistrust and get back to the basics of productive effort and responsibility: that’s how we do it.
I think this is important because most whites want to do the right thing, partly because they know blacks have been mistreated in the past. And most blacks want to do the right thing, but they are being misled into believing they cannot make it unless the government makes “whitey” “give it up.”
This third ingredient is of great importance because a great many Americans, both black and non-black, are not aware of the tremendous contributions blacks have made to the health and welfare of this nation. Incidentally, a marvelous book titled, “Black Profiles In Courage” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Alan Steinberg provides a wealth of information about some of our black ancestors: much of the information can be found no place else.
The fourth ingredient in our first step is two-fold: first to show that the Founding Fathers were indeed founders of a new and revolutionary society; and second, to advance the notion that my perception of what is needed in a society such as ours (to make it free and keep it that way), is in sync with the Founding Fathers’ recipe in their attempt to provide a haven for all free-minded people — as it turns out, the recipe is true whether we are black or non-black.
The fifth ingredient in our first step is to solidify the notion that the human spirit is naturally inclined to be free, and all efforts to deny that fact only result in strengthening the resolve and constitution of those among us who would be denied that freedom.
The second step in our recipe is to synthesize the five ingredients into a concrete package that will motivate the white man, the black man, and all other Americans to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
The final step in this recipe is to get this “cake of attitude cultivation” published and in the hands of the American people.
In addition, I beseech the reader to respond to the nation with ideas for creative solutions to the three major and complex problems herein identified.
That is an ambitious undertaking, one might suggest: that may be true; however, the overall intent is to move each and every American to the point that his inclination is to look at other Americans and think, “Hey! He’s an American just like me; his wants and needs are just like mine. Both of us can have everything we want, but it is not free, we’ve got to pay a price.
“My neighbor won’t do it for me because he is working, just like me, to make it happen for himself. The government won’t do it for me because the only reason our government exists is to insure that others don’t violate my right to make it happen in my own way and in my own time.
“I know there is a corollary of my attitude to my success: good attitude, good success; and, a bad attitude caresses the path of failure. I know that in this country, I make the difference in what happens to me.
“I can succeed or I can fail, it all depends on me. Either way, it sure is great to be an American.”
Wouldn’t it be something if we all thought in a similar manner? Chances of that happening are remote, to say the least; however, we can make in-roads past the crossroads by eliminating Roadblocks during our Race to Excellence.
Before we get started, let’s briefly and concisely state the reason for my handling of this subject in the manner yet to unfold.
A person’s mental attitude is one of the keys to progress; however, Roadblocks tend to counterbalance Positive Mental Attitudes (PMA). This counterbalancing effect tends to make it extremely difficult to take advantage of the positive effects of a PMA. The end result is that many people tend to give up and say PMA does not work.
With the above in mind, my major aim is to eliminate major Roadblocks in the American mentality, especially black mentality, and start PMA from ground zero. In addition, I not only give America reasons to embrace racial harmony, I give them reasons to pursue “the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
In many instances, past events simply remain blotches of information, merely historical perspectives; however, the past offers a wealth of knowledge from which to learn. Since life is full of change, unless we have some understanding of how the past relates to our present, the chance of us improving our performance compared to the past is reduced. I don’t intend to waste our time by providing irrelevant information; however,
when profiles of the past are responsive to removal of Roadblocks to Progress, I think they are relevant enough to highlight and sponsor the need to change. I’m confident that when those profiles are highlighted, they will aid you in understanding why changes will be beneficial to all Americans.